Dive Into Cartagena
The walled Old Town, founded in the 16th century, is surrounded by 13 km of weather-worn cobblestone walls. However, Cartagena is much more than an epicenter of architecture: you can dine at fabulous open-air cafes, chill at chic bars, as well as dig your toes into gorgeous white sand and relax under fringy palms on many of the nearby beaches. Whether you want an exotic beach getaway or want to learn a little history, or a little bit of both, Cartagena is where your vacation dreams come true.
Travelers’ Trifecta: Old City, Bocagrande and La Boquilla
These three areas are where everything is happening and where you’ll want to explore. In the Old City, you’ll be blown away by the sensuous atmosphere and unparalleled beauty: majestic steeple churches, electrically colorful colonial buildings, mazes of quaint stone alleys, open-air cafes and balconies with cascades of bougainvillea that are picture perfect. Bocagrande is Cartagena’s hip, nostalgic nod to Miami Vice. You’ll find a wide swath of humanity, along with loungers and umbrellas, bars and restaurants and vendors. It’s poppin’ with fun. La Boquilla is about a 20-minute taxi ride from Bocagrande and its Resort Central. However, you can catch some rays and hang with the locals, take kiteboarding lessons and go snorkeling. You’ll want to hit all three of these areas when you’re in Cartagena.
Breathtaking Beaches: In & Out of the City
After you’ve hit Bocagrande and want more of a remote beach vibe, get ready: you’ve got 19 km of beaches in the metropolitan area. However, if you want to head outside the city limits, nothing beats the platinum sands and aquamarine waters of the Rosario Islands, where you can also explore the coral reefs. But perhaps the most beautiful beach in Colombia is Playa Blanca, which is 45 minutes from the city, but it’s only reachable by boat. You can chillax on the snow-white sand and even go diving. If you want more water sports, head for Laguito.
Cartagena Quick Facts
Colombian Peso (COL)
110 volts (U.S. Standard), most modern hotel sockets are 220 volts. You will want to bring your converter.
All U.S. citizens must have a valid passport when traveling to and from Colombia.
Drink only bottled water.
Eastern Standard Time (UTC/CST -5 hours)
The peak travel season extends from mid-November through mid-March
Tips & Transportation
In the Raw: La Cevicheria
Considered one of the best ceviche/fish restaurants in the city, this hoppin’ joint is known for Peruvian-Colombian fusion eats. It’ll be a welcome, healthy change from all the fritos and fried food, that is everywhere. The ambiance is amazing and the chef’s goal is to “generate good energy through the delights of the sea and the exquisite flavors of an immense variety of fruits and vegetables offered by this diverse country.” Your palate will be digging all the exotic tastes, which are doused with a good amount of lime and of course, the killer cocktails. It’s a must-visit.
Live Salsa: Cafe Havana
Put on your dancing shoes–this place is where you can show off your moves in Cartagena. When you walk in, you’ll be slayed by the gorgeous, wood-paneled walls and whirring ceiling fans. Located in Getsemani, the bar attracts locals and ex-pats who are sipping on strong drinks (mojitos are the best) and swaying to the horn-blowing Colombians in the band. The place stays open until the wee hours, so make this your late-night haunt, but arrive early and snag a table because they go fast.
While clad in bold, colorful dresses and selling exotic fruit and sweets, these women balance fruit bowls on their heads. Talk about talent. They’re called “Las Palenqueras” because San Basilio de Palenque is their home: it’s a small village southeast of Cartagena that was founded in colonial times by runaway slaves and is considered one of the first free towns in the Americas. Look for these iconic women when you’re strolling your way through the beautiful streets of Cartagena.
Rafael Núñez International Airport is an airport serving the Caribbean port city of Cartagena, Colombia. It is the largest airport in the country's northern Caribbean region.
Immigration & Customs
When entering Colombia, you must consider some important recommendations. In this website Colombia Travel Information, you will find information related to very important tips before traveling, entering and leaving Colombia. Also, you'll find general information of the country, such as health and vaccinations, currency, taxes, etc. Departure tax is required. The price varies, so be prepared with $40 in cash to pay at the airport. Some airlines factor this price into your plane ticket cost, but to play it safe, have some cash on hand.
Getting to Your Hotel
CheapCaribbean.com has partnered with Decameron Explorer as our premier transportation company in Cartagena. They’ll provide you with safe, comfortable and professional transportation, from the airport to your resort, and back. When you exit baggage claim, look for a Decameron Explorer representative holding a sign with your name on it and you'll be directed to your transfer.
Getting Around Cartagena
The concierge at your hotel will help you with the best mode of getting around the city, but taxis are available if you need to travel a bit further.